Credit Card Bills for October 2008 – Woops!

Well, it is true,… all good things must come to an end, and just as I ended the summer in Hyde Park in London, then came back to Taiwan… so the last of my summer trip bills are coming due. And the total damage isn’t pretty. So here goes…

The bill can be divided into three sections: vacation spending, online expenses, and regular bills.

Vacation Spending

I stayed at a little guest house near Toll Bridge in Southern Scotland; then I stayed at the Hanover Hotel in Edinburgh, Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen, and finally in Imperial College London. The total damage for each of these places was NT$18,418. Each of the locations was notable for something; but the highlight had to be staying in Imperial College London, which was located so close to Hyde Park, Harrods and the price was amazing. I found at least two of these places courtesy of

I also bought a few other items over that period including: a router for Mother which I couldn’t really install properly – NT$1984; a pair of shoes from Marks&Spencer in Inverness – NT$1762; gasoline (wow! That was expensive) – NT$2900; Internet – NT$599 from T Mobile; a cup of coffee at Hong Kong International Airport at 9am on the way back… I couldn’t find any money in a currency I could pay with (no reminbi, US$, HK$ or S$…) so I paid by credit card – NT$165. Grand Total: NT$7410.

Regular Bills

We also paid our life insurance term – NT$2000; a mobile phone bill – NT$1970; and a trip to Carrefour for shopping – NT$585. Total NT$4555.

Online Spending

Curiously there was some online spending too. I paid for writers to produce some work for this site, and for an upcoming Dow Jones website which cost about NT$2199. I also paid NT$95 for Google Advertising. Total NT$2294.

There were also several credits to my account of about NT$155 and for some reason, I wasn’t charged any interest on the outstanding NT$444 that I didn’t pay off last month by mistake.

I also purchased several things on my secondary credit card including renting a car from Hertz and purchasing airline tickets courtesy of BMI both of which were quite expensive… but BMI was well worth the cost as I was able to buy return tickets from London to Edinburgh for about NT$6766. The Hertz Rental car was easy drive (if French!) and I rented it for about 9 days, so the total was NT$25,168 for that.

Total Cost of the Holiday Trip

I can now calculate the cost of my trip:

Airline Tickets: NT$50,766
Car Rental: NT$25,168
Hotels: NT$18,418
Expenses from September: NT$16,438
Cash: NT$31350 (est. because of fluctuating exchange rates).

So the total cost of my trip was NT$145,000. Wow! I had hoped to keep it under control, too. Perhaps the biggest expense was the car rental because of the cost of gasoline. Overall it cost about 1/3 of the total expense.

I was privileged to be able to stay with family and friends around the UK, so whenever possible, I would treat them to meals in restaurants as a way to say ‘thank you’. It’s also a much more relaxed way to visit friends and family! It also helped to cut the cost of travel.

While I feel sad that I had to dip so much into our family’s savings to do this, it was necessary because I hadn’t seen family for three years. They live in the north of Scotland, making additional travel expensive, inconvenient and tiring. It was well worth the expense, and I thoroughly benefited from the trip. I’m so glad to reconnect with people, so it was WELL worth the expense.

Now that I’ve established how much it cost to visit the UK, it has me wondering if there are any ways to defray such costs by finding ways to make money while traveling. Could this be the subject of another post?

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First Net Worth Statement – September 1995

Yes, after all the turmoil in the markets, I reached a decision. I have decided to blog about my finances in more detail. While the exact extent is uncertain at the moment, I have decided that I need to track the performance of my investments more regularly.

A step back in time!

In truth, I’ve been keeping (initially monthly but now quarterly) updates for more than 10 years anyway. I can trace the finances all the way back to about 1995 when I had just got married. In those days, the record keeping was pretty unsophisticated, but I did use Microsoft Works 3.0 to tote up my assets.

September 1995

I think it was around the time of the 1996 Taiwan Straits missile crisis that focused my mind on how much money we didn’t have. While things were pretty tense here, it made me realize how important having some cash in the bank was. Shortly after that, I set aside nearly HK$10,000 in a bank account that earned a pitiful amount of interest for quite some time, but at least the money was there, for an emergency.

High or Low? Which figure?

Let’s take a look shall we! We had $66,000 or thereabouts actually in the bank, I also held about NT$7000 in HK$, an outstanding (but never repaid) loan of NT$25000 which I subsequently wrote off, and NT$75,000 from a hui (read more about a Taiwanese ‘hui’). Overall, I would say that this was a pretty optimistic statement because it counted approximately NT$100K of assets that weren’t in my control! This was about US$6300 (at US$:NT$ 27.43167 – an average for that month) or about US$2670 at the more conservative ‘unkind’ evaluation!

Any guesses on what the current figures are? When did you start doing your Net Worth Statements?

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Credit Card Crap: Statements ‘n’ all.

Credit card statements came in, two of them. Yes, that’s right. I’m the proud owner of 2 credit cards, soon to be three.

Why? When I usually espouse having only one credit card. The first credit card is the TSIB card. Initially the limit was approaching NT$300K, but I cut that right down by 50%. I was unhappy having such a large credit limit on my card.

#1 – TSIB Card

This month’s spending will be paid off in full, as usual. The expenses are quite minimal: Hosting for my school’s Flickr account (NT$773), the usual NT$2000 life insurance premium, and hosting for BlueHost (for InvestorBlogger) which is for 12 months at NT$1,355. Though this account is less powerful than the one I had, it seems a lot more stable.

#2 – SCSBCC Card

The limit on this card is VERY small, and when I first got the card, I saved up a lot of points that EXPIRED, hence I downgraded this card to online and emergency purchases ONLY. Then I forgot to reactivate the card for ages, its limit is only NT$50K. In the first month, I charged only 2 items: the US$1.95 paypal activation fee, which is credited to PayPal; and the last month’s hosting fees for Dreamhost. The total was about NT$1841.

#3 – Carrefour Card

In Taiwan, Carrefour have their own branded card, that doubles as a membership card, allows cashback, and bonus points. The membership function is the reason we were particularly interested as we shop there regularly. I can’t see too many reasons for having this card, except earning some cashback/bonus points on spending we already do. Also, the card is able to use VisaWave technology, making spending at convenience stores, and other places more convenient. We also get points for regular spending. It’s UNLIKELY we’ll ever use this card for paying off larger amounts. But it will come in handy. We usually spend NT$4~5K there each month on groceries and items for home as well as school. In fact, we managed to get lots of points for replacing one of our school’s airconditioners.

That’s it on the personal credit card front for June. How many cards do you have? Is three too few or too many?